What is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's is a chronic, debilitating illness categorized as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), typically affecting adolescents and young adults between the ages of 13 and 35. Crohn's currently affects upwards of 1.4 million globally and another 50,000 people are diagnosed each year.
Crohn's is an inflammatory condition that most commonly begins in the ileum, the end of the small bowel. However, sufferers of this disease can experience inflammation in the entire gastrointestinal tract (GI) from the mouth to the anus and the inflammation can spread throughout the entire thickness of the bowel wall. Living with Crohn's disease, even when managed under the care of a physician, is painful, unpredictable, and impacts patients' lives mentally, physically and socially.
What are Common Symptoms of Crohn's?
Outward signs that one man be suffering from Crohn's are weight loss, fatigue, and stomach discomfort. The tell-tale symptoms of Crohn's may include persistent:
- Persisten diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation
- Constipation (can lead to bowel obstruction)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
- Loss of normal menstrual cycle
General symptoms that may also be associated with IBD
Because of the chronic nature of the disease, patients will likely experience flareups, of inflammation of the bowel, which can be caused by a multitude of factors that are often followed by periods of remission, or a state where symptoms subside.
In more severe cases, prolonged inflammation can lead to fissures or fistulas. Both conditions can result in anal bleeding and pain, especially during bowel movements. These are serious conditions that require immediate medical attention. Individuals experiencing signs and symptoms should see a physician or GI specialist.
What Causes Crohn's Disease?
The cause of Crohn's has not been linked to one specific factor. Recent research provides evidence that genetic, environmental, stress and dietary factors may contribute to the development of Crohn's.
Serological and phenotypic testing has proved that the likelihood of development increases with family history of the disease. Environmental factors such as living in a dense, urban area, and high-stress lifestyle can play a role. Lastly, diets are a large risk factor in development and management of Crohn's disease.
How is Crohn's Treated?
There is not a cure for Crohn's, but there are treatments available that help manage the condition. Treatment options vary, but may include dietary adjustments, supplementation, ingestible glucocorticosteroids, rectal foams, and in most severe cases, biologics.
Medicinal therapy, supplementation and diet management, in combination, is often the most effective method of reducing inflammation and can be the fastest path back to health.
How Does Diet Factor In?
Like many conditions, diet can affect and even exacerbate symptoms. The purpose of diet management is to reduce inflammation in the bowel, reducing the number of flareups, and ultimately leading to remission. People living with Crohn's have to be hyperaware of the types of food they eat, and how their bodies react. Some foods that may trigger flareups include dairy, whole grains, foods that contain seeds, high-acidity foods, processed foods, fried foods and raw nuts. Drinks with carbonation or caffeine, even alcohol, may cause discomfort for some.
Diet management is not just about taking foods away, but also adding foods that may be beneficial. Patients can help by eating high-collagen foods and foods that have shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. We have had numerous conversations with gastroenterologists who recommend bone broth to their patients for the collagen protein and amino acids like glycine, arginine, and proline, which may benefit the digestive systems of people with Crohn's.
We recommend always speaking with your doctor about your symptoms and how changes in your diet may help. If you're looking for ways to incorporate bone broth into your cooking, be sure to check out our recipe blog.
We are a passionate, health-focused company, committed to producing a nutritionally consistent bone broth that is appropriate for clinical use. We believe a more natural diet is a better path to health.
Some Helpful Resources on Crohn's: